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Thursday, July 12, 2007

Shut up Orac

Orac


During my recent week in Chicago, My show was attended by Orac, of the marginally famous blog Respectful Insolence. I recognized him right away, because he was the only guy in the room that night, wearing a cape and wrestling mask. (I found out later, that on the few occasions he leaves the house, he likes to remain incognito).
When the show ended, we went over to the bar. After he was done signing autographs, I made the mistake of asking him a couple questions. They were honest questions, because I respect his intelligence. I’ve never been able to get an answer from political opponents on two issues: Is there any scientific basis for Al Gore’s claim of the oceans rising 20 feet? And whether there were any conclusive studies on the dangers of second hand smoke. He told me to send him an eMail, and he would respond. I did not know that I was setting myself up to be trashed. You can read his snippy review of my show, and the flimsy reply to Al Gore’s claim of 20 feet here. My response follows:

I'll try and keep this as brief and readable as possible. Going point by point tends to bore.

1. Ad Hominem attacks: Remember this was a comedy show, and ad hominem is funny. (Perhaps not so much when you are a target, but laughing at oneself is a good measure of a sense of humor.) Comics like Don Rickles focus entirely on ad hominem attacks. The biggest attack on Gore was not that he was fat, but rather a hypocritical Televangelist, who uses fear of apocalypse to enrich himself, promote his agenda, and gain political points. We all distain Pat Robertson for similar behaviors, but Gore is awarded with Oscars and a Nobel Prize.


2. I never said Global Warming wasn’t true: I said that people (not scientists) tend to explain every extreme weather event as a result of Global Warming. Certainly, if a 116 degree day in Vegas, or a devastating hurricane is evidence of Global Warming (As proponents such as Laurie David and RFK jr. often suggest), then the 30th coldest February in recorded history, must be evidence to the contrary. By suggesting that February was proof that Global Warming isn't happening, I was using satire, to illustrate that those who cite anecdotal evidence, are off base.
And yes, I am aware that some climate models do predict areas of the earth to go colder, but that is only areas that require the gulfstream and the Thermohaline Conveyor for their temperate climates. That doesn’t include Chicago. Anyone who thinks this past cold winter in the Midwest was evidence of Global Warming is seriously misguided, and deserves any ad hominem I can toss their way.


3. Scientist Envy: This was another ad hominem attack, I used to generate a little levity. Just between you and me, it’s semi-autobiographical. I was that geeky kid with allergies and asthma, who got beat up for lunch money, and creamed on the dodgeball court. And I understand how such a childhood can translate into bitterness and envy. I also know, that outside of a few large profile celebrities, who have no intention of giving up their high end lifestyles (See: Live Earth), most of the people campaigning hard for things like legislative restrictions on consumption, tend to be on the lower end of the income brackets; and are usually Starbucks baristas, bicycle messengers, or government employees (more ad hominem levity).
My speculation is, that smart kids who are bullied in school, grow up to be bullies themselves. Only, they become intellectual bullies. My liberal use of insults on stage is one symptom of that syndrome. Your need to publish the response to my question on your blog, without even asking me if I would mind, is another. (I’d have given you permission, I just would have liked if you asked first, and given me fair warning that I needed to prepare a rebuttal). Such behavior is indicative of someone still hurting from those dodgeball welts. I think perhaps, the reason you didn’t find the bit funny. is because it made those welts sting again. Your remark about getting laid a lot, doesn’t do much to alleviate my suspicions either.


4. Scientists have been wrong before: They have. And they will be wrong again the future. They could be wrong right now. We just don’t know. What I do know, is that any legislation passed to “rectify” global warming will far outlive any consensus. It is not the science I oppose, it is the solutions.
Look at the Kyoto Accord. India and China were both exempted from any restrictions on burning carbon, because at the time they were considered “developing” nations. They are now home to two of the hottest economies in the world, and China is now the number one producer of CO2 in the world. So what would have Kyoto done to slow Global Warming? Nothing measurable. On the other hand, it would most probably have been devastating to the US economy, and put outsourcing into high gear. Cheap labor has already soaked up a lot of American manufacturing; cheap energy would have been a final nail in our economic coffin, Meanwhile, the Kyoto Accord is still alive, and there are people who insist that America needs to sign on.
Incidentally, it is not true that Scientific consensus “overwhelmingly favors the contention that global warming is indeed due to a significant degree to human activity.” The latest survey put that consensus at 55.8% of climate scientists. Your citation of the IPCC report as an indication of consensus is incredibly misleading, since some scientists who oppose the report, had their opinions dismissed. Richard Lindzen even claims he had to sue to get his name removed from it.
And even if the consensus were 99.9%, does that make it correct? Scientific consensus was vehemently opposed to Plate Tectonic theory, for forty years. Consensus is not science, it is politics.

5. 20 Feet: This was the only point I really wanted to discuss, before you decided to make me a lengthy blog entry. You write: if half of the ice sheets in Greenland and West Antarctica melted, sea levels could rise 20 feet (6 metres).” (emphasis mine)
That’s a big “If." You know, If flying space monkeys lifted up Mt. Everest, and dropped it into Lake Michigan, the resulting tidal wave could destroy Chicago, Milwaukee, Benton Harbor and Green Bay. But is there any science suggesting either occurrence is likely?
Here is a great example of how scientists are occasionally wrong (even Orac). You write:

“The last time the polar regions were significantly warmer than present for an extended period (about 125,000 years ago), reductions in polar ice volume led to 4 to 6 metres of sea level rise.”

But according to an article released just last week in Science, DNA samples indicate that Greenland did not melt 125,000 years ago. In fact: “The new discoveries suggest that southern Greenland has been ice-covered for at least four times longer than previously thought.”
And what about Antarctica you say? It’s been getting colder. And the ice is getting thicker.

Hardly reason to sell the beach house.

66 Comments:

  • Well, I'm completely underwhelmed yet not surprised in the least.

    By Blogger Jesse, at 10:00 AM, July 12, 2007  

  • Let's see...more category 5s every year, insurance companies not even wanting to sell to people owning property in Florida anymore but everything's just hunky dory.

    You're dumber than you look.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:14 AM, July 12, 2007  

  • "more category 5s every year"

    Really? According to who?

    It's easy to convince yourself that you're smart, when you make up statistics.

    By Blogger Tim Slagle, at 10:27 AM, July 12, 2007  

  • Don't sell your beach house.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:27 AM, July 12, 2007  

  • A feud between a comedian and a scientist...NOW THAT'S FUNNY!

    Don't be too mad about this, you're getting valuable publicity. I, a huge fan of stand-up comedy, have now heard of you.

    By the way, Orac says "Hi."

    By Blogger Dinzer, at 11:53 AM, July 12, 2007  

  • I just came over from Orac's blog; he says hi.

    I hate to say it, but the discussion over there is way funnier than this. Man, he threw you a slow pitch. Go on and hit it.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:03 PM, July 12, 2007  

  • Comedians are fantastic at applied technologies - absolute wizards with sticky engineering problems - but notoriously weak on research science. I am not sure why this is, but it's almost always the case.

    I urge everyone to seek out information on this subject authored by climatologists, stop back here if you get stuck while modeling your next turbofan for Lockheed.

    By Blogger SavageAphid, at 12:04 PM, July 12, 2007  

  • Hi Tim,
    I believe that global warming is a threat to our world. I do not have the expertise you and Orac have to explain it but I've seen it in the glaciers in Alaska. However, whatever the facts are, I would still like to see my daughter enjoy a good barbecue and vodka. I've never had the pleasure but I've heard they're legendary. I know you're a nice guy and so is my son, Orac. It's a case of an immovable object meeting an irresitible force. Don't ask me which of you is which. Make nice you guys.
    Orac's Mom

    By Anonymous Orac's Mom, at 12:32 PM, July 12, 2007  

  • Orac says, "Hi."

    Between global warming and our (Louisiana) coastal erosion, I will soon have a beach house in Baton Rouge.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:45 PM, July 12, 2007  

  • "Between global warming and our (Louisiana) coastal erosion, I will soon have a beach house in Baton Rouge"

    You forget the number one reason why you don't have beachfront already: The Army Corps of Engineers.

    They're the only thing that's been keeping the gulf at a distance, and if mismanagement there continues, I believe your prediction will be right.

    By Blogger Tim Slagle, at 12:52 PM, July 12, 2007  

  • http://www.gatech.edu/news-room/release.php?id=654

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/article567156.ece

    http://news.mongabay.com/2005/0916-ucar.html

    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/1123560v1

    Everyone know that comedians are smarter than scientists.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:55 PM, July 12, 2007  

  • http://www.magazine.noaa.gov/stories/mag184.htm


    Sometimes things aren't so scary, when you put them in their proper context

    By Blogger Tim Slagle, at 1:08 PM, July 12, 2007  

  • This is an extremely stupid article. It astounds me that anyone still believes in this crap, and it distresses me because our only hope lies in taking decisive - but relatively easy - action.

    Re 20 feet:

    Considering the amount of nonsense in the post, it's possible the author hasn't noticed that ice melts when the water it's floating in gets warmer (which it is).

    More interesting is the fact that warming rate corresponds to the surface area to volume ratio of the ice, not its actual volume. In other words, the smaller the ice block, the faster it shrinks.

    Also, ice is one of the most reflective substances on earth: water and earth absorb far more heat, so the less ice there is on the surface, the faster the planet warms.

    Perhaps less obvious is the lubrication effect of warming water: as melting ice flows from an ice sheet into the ocean, warm water rises from beneath, making the undersurface more slippery, so the ice flows faster.

    In short, there are quite a few reasons to think that given that the ice is clearly melting now, it will do so MUCH faster in the future. It's hardly comparable to talking about flying space monkeys.

    Re scientists have been wrong before:

    I'm always fascinated by this idea that the scientific consensus is just some sort of popularity contest. What I'd like to know is, do the people who believe this fly in airplanes? Drive cars? Use microwaves? Write idiotic blog entries on a computer that's linked to the web? Because if they don't believe in scientific consensus, it's hard to see how they can justify using all this technology that ONLY exists because scientific consensus WORKS. If you don't like what science says about your pet topic, sorry, but that's your personal problem, not science's.

    ------------------------

    Meanwhile, around the equator rainfall is dropping, causing forests and arable land to desertify, contributing to famines and extinctions and at the same time eliminating a major carbon store, which will further exacerbate warming.

    You don't have to be a scientist to see why the current situation scares the hell out of most scientists. All you have to do is switch on your brain. Try it.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:28 PM, July 12, 2007  

  • Anonymous writes: "You don't have to be a scientist to see why the current situation scares the hell out of most scientists."

    I'm guessing that means you're NOT a scientist? Because if you were, you would recognize that your remark: " ice melts when the water it's floating in gets warmer" might be true; but floating ice has already displaced the water. If ice is floating, it will not raise the level of the liquid when it melts. In fact, it will probably drop it just a little, since cooling the liquid causes contraction.

    oops!

    By Blogger Tim Slagle, at 1:36 PM, July 12, 2007  

  • Mr. Slagle, perhaps you were skimming too fast when "Anonymous" wrote this:

    Perhaps less obvious is the lubrication effect of warming water: as melting ice flows from an ice sheet into the ocean, warm water rises from beneath, making the undersurface more slippery, so the ice flows faster.

    In other words, when ice flows off a rock surface into the ocean, it raises the sea level whether it melts or not.

    In fact, it will probably drop it just a little, since cooling the liquid causes contraction.

    Interesting thesis.  If you are such an expert, why don't you calculate the thermal contraction from the side-effects of this melting.  Do not ignore the fact that the density of water is a maximum at 4°C, and decreases as the water cools toward freezing; in other words, cooling water can either contract or expand!

    By Anonymous Reality Czech, at 2:14 PM, July 12, 2007  

  • "Do not ignore the fact that the density of water is a maximum at 4°C, and decreases as the water cools toward freezing; in other words, cooling water can either contract or expand!"

    That's why I said "probably."

    I also understand, that warmer water could precipitate land based melting. Regardless, melting foating ice, does not raise ocean levels, and Anonymus was incorrect to bring it up.

    By Blogger Tim Slagle, at 2:30 PM, July 12, 2007  

  • I've found that science is mostly worthless unless it is convenient for me or saves me a few bucks. Aside from that, The Market will take care of all my needs if only I worked harder.

    By Blogger Jason, at 3:22 PM, July 12, 2007  

  • Dear Professor Slagle, Your scientific prowess is amazing. I'm completely stunned by your infallible opinions. By stating that “melting floating ice, does not raise ocean levels,” it makes it true! Belief is so much more convincing than evidence! In fact, just visit: http://www.physorg.com/news5619.htmfor proof that doesn't matter in the face of your opinion! Let me try your brilliance for just a moment (remember, imitation is the greatest form of flattery): If flying space monkeys lifted up Tim Slagel and dropped him into Lake Michigan, the resulting tidal wave could destroy the entire Midwest! Shizame! It is true!

    By Anonymous Biff, at 5:51 PM, July 12, 2007  

  • A layman may think that melting floating ice is not a problem, since it won't directly affect sea level; however, the ice shelves around both Greenland and Antartica are a major force in stabalising the land based ice sheets; losing the ice shelves means losing a lot of land ice to compensate.

    And, of course, sea ice reflects a lot more sun than open water, so the temperatures around the land based ice go up.

    Your comments about the Eemian ice on Greenland are, well, wrong; read the paper if you wish to find out more. Essentially, it's saying there was not quite as much melting as thought, which isn';t a major disproof of anything. Since the water for the sea level rise has to come from somewhere, the implication is that Antartica is less stable than thought.

    From a scientific viewpoint, if we double CO2 from preindustrial levels, then a 4 to 6 meter rise from ice sheet melting is the most likely outcome, the main issue being how fast it happens.

    Science was indeed opposed to plate tectonics, for extremely good reasons - there was no convincing evidence for it, only a good match between some coastlines (Well, 2000m contours). To go from this to a complete consensus that some trillion-tonne lumps of rock were going walkabout without a bit more evidence was completely unsupportable.

    By Anonymous Hairy Backed European, at 12:28 AM, July 13, 2007  

  • Actually, H.B.E., there was considerably more evidence than that.  Rocks on either side of the divides matched each other, down to the fossils.  But it still needed a mechanism to move the plates, and until the spreading mid-ocean ridges were discovered there was still justified skepticism about the model.  (Today we can measure the movement directly with GPS and long-baseline radio interferometry.)

    There is no such doubt about anthropogenic climate change.  It's been possible to do rough calculations of the effects of CO2 since Linnaeus in the 19th century; what scientists are trying to work out today are matters like the interaction of clouds as reflectors vs. water vapor as absorber, and changes in atmospheric and oceanic circulation.

    Now, notice Mr. Slagle's take on this.  His "responses", if you can call them that, fasten onto one trivial facet of the question posed to him and dismiss the rest.  He appears to take ignorance as a virtue; if he doesn't know it, it can't be important.  It looks like two people tried to get him to think about the actual mechanisms of the breakup of ice sheets, and all the facts and reasoning bounced off him without sticking.

    This is the mark of a closed mind.  The hard evidence is out there; Greenland is losing 57 cubic miles of ice per year, some 3 times the historical rate (and the rate of ice deposition), but he'll either deny the significance or deny the data entirely.

    I've speculated elsewhere that this is not a reasoned response to the facts.  What Mr. Slagle and his camp are doing is repeating the shibboleths which bind them together socially.  One of these is that all the leftists and socialists are wrong, so whatever they say can be disregarded or attacked as a ploy to get political power.  (This is also politically convenient.)  Opposing or questioning these bits of dogma gets you thrown out of the club.

    Perhaps it's well for me that I wouldn't join any club which would have me as a member.

    Unfortunately for Mr. Slagle (or at least for any world on which he lives), reality doesn't care about human political alignments.  Reality is not socially constructed no matter how many Po-Mo's or Bush administration officials say so.  If a raving Marxist loony says something verifiably true about chemistry, or the atmosphere, or even economics, it is still true.  The same applies to anyone making a false statement, no matter how well-respected they may be.  And in this day and age, ignorance about chemistry and the like is downright dangerous.  We are asked to support the programs of government based on such considerations, and if we buy false claims about mercury emissions from coal plants or the prospects of fuel ethanol — or human influence on the climate — someone will pay.  I get the feeling that Mr. Slagle expects someone else to foot the bill.

    BTW, Orac says hi.

    By Anonymous Enngineer-Poet, at 2:08 AM, July 13, 2007  

  • Biff,

    Very compelling. I had never thought of the difference in densities.

    However, I tried to duplicate the results last night, to no avail. Took some salt water out of my aquarium (sg: 1.22) , put it in a glass, filled it with ice and marked the level. This morning there was no change. Not saying it doesn't rise, just too small an increase for my crude equipment.

    Maybe I need the kind of salt that makes the water turn blue, like in the pictures.

    By Blogger Tim Slagle, at 5:52 AM, July 13, 2007  

  • HBE writes: "Essentially, it's saying there was not quite as much melting as thought, which isn';t a major disproof of anything. Since the water for the sea level rise has to come from somewhere, the implication is that Antartica is less stable than thought."

    Of course the gorilla waiting for a dance at this party, is that 125,000 years ago, the warming source has to be accounted for as well. When we get THAT figured out, we'll be in a much better state to calculate the anthropogenic contribution.

    By Blogger Tim Slagle, at 5:58 AM, July 13, 2007  

  • Engineer Poet writes: "Opposing or questioning these bits of dogma gets you thrown out of the club."

    My thoughts EXACTLY. In fact, the questions I've raised here, most certainly have obliterated any chance of me joining the Orac Fan Club, and my opposition to AGW has ruined any ability for me to find a good game of Dungeons and Dragons to sit in on.

    But I waver. Back to the only issue I ever wanted to discuss: 20 feet. You showed me your link, Here's Mine. According to this study, the overall mass of the Greenland ice is actually increasing. So which is it?

    And in the link you provided, is this quote: "increasing atmospheric temperatures worldwide might lead to a rise in sea levels of 2 feet or more by 2100."

    Which is DANGEROUSLY close to the number I cited onstage that originally pissed Orac off. I said (paraphrasing) that 23 inches over the next 100 years is a problem that can be easilly dealt with, just by moving inland.

    And so I don't look like I'm cherry picking here: "Overpeck says accelerating ice-sheet melting in Greenland and Antarctica might lead to even higher rates of sea level rise, perhaps 3 feet a century by 2100."

    93 years ago, most Americans lived on inland farms. The cultural, social, and technological changes we've witnessed in that time frame have been enormous. I have full confidence that the human spirit will triumph, and our descendents will be completely capable, of dealing with an ocean that is 36 inches deeper

    By Blogger Tim Slagle, at 6:19 AM, July 13, 2007  

  • Oh I'm so confused. Why was Orac wearing a costume? Can you really put poison in vodka? Is the whole CO2 coming from bicycles some fart joke that I'm not getting?

    I'm finding this argument very entertaining but you'd better be careful about stressing out my BFF Susie and making her sweet mother be the referee.

    Most fascinating of all is the snickering about who was the biggest geek in HS when you know it was guys like Al Gore that got the attention from the prettiest girls and that's why both you and ORAC are jealous of him. I think he is all the more huggable with the extra chubby on. But if only you could see past that and get the point that he makes in his last book which is that the internet has opened up the possibility for written discussion by people who disagree which is precisely what is happening in your blogs.

    Oh wait was this supposed to be about science? Sorry.

    By Blogger Mindy, at 7:46 AM, July 13, 2007  

  • So basically your arguement is "Jeez, I was just kidding!"

    Nice.

    By Anonymous Evan, at 8:15 AM, July 13, 2007  

  • Evanwrites: "So basically your arguement is 'Jeez, I was just kidding!'"

    Huh?

    Which argument? There are about four going on right now. More specific, please.

    By Blogger Tim Slagle, at 8:36 AM, July 13, 2007  

  • As regards "Scientists have been wrong before" -

    I don't know if anyone has brought this up (I don't care to read through all of the comments at this point), but it would be remiss to not point out that between Newton and Einstein, everyone was quite convinced that Newton was right about gravitation. After Einstein, people were still convinced that Newton was, for most purposes, right, but Einstein was more accurate (as well as explanatory). Science is not flip-floppy from one extreme to another, it is rather a series of approximations, each approximation getting closer to the truth.

    And before the obvious reply of "studies show X causes cancer and studies show X doesn't cause cancer", those are medical studies seeking to establish a causal relationship from a correlative one. Global Warming studies have the causal relationship fairly well worked out (increased CO2 leads to increased temperature). The closest scientific debate you can get to is the efficacy of legislation to limit CO2 emissions.

    By Anonymous AtheistAcolyte, at 12:39 PM, July 13, 2007  

  • Going back a few comments:


    You forget the number one reason why you don't have beachfront already: The Army Corps of Engineers.

    They're the only thing that's been keeping the gulf at a distance, and if mismanagement there continues, I believe your prediction will be right.


    This is precisely wrong. In fact, the Army Corps of Engineers has been the single agency most directly responsible for the erosion of Louisiana's coast:


    Although the problem has been developing for decades, neither the state nor the federal government has been able to develop and build projects of the scope that would make a difference. However, with coastal land disappearing at the rate of 2 acres (0.8 ha) an hour, the scope and urgency of the engineering challenge become clearer every day. A century of engineering in the Mississippi basin to prevent floods and aid navigation has created the present situation. Only reengineering the Mississippi can restore a balance that will stop the land loss and enable coastal Louisiana to become stable and self-sustaining.

    It has been estimated that human activity, directly or indirectly, has caused approximately 70 percent of the land losses in the delta. Whether this number is accurate or not, human activity has clearly been a significant factor in coastal Louisiana land losses, along with subsidence, saltwater intrusion, storm events, barrier island degradation, and relative sea level changes. These effects were described in detail by the State of Louisiana and certain federal agencies in preparing a plan called the Louisiana Coastal Area (LCA) Louisiana Comprehensive Coastwide Ecosystem Restoration Study (for additional details, see http://www.coast2050.gov/lca.htm).

    Among their many achievements in the latter part of the 19th century and the 20th century, engineers were perhaps proudest of the taming of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers and the development of the watersheds for purposes of navigation, flood control, and agriculture. Most engineers are familiar with the dams on the Missouri, the locks and dams on the upper Mississippi, and the extensive levee systems on the lower Mississippi. The achievement of James Buchanan Eads in opening the South Pass of the Mississippi River in 1880 to make New Orleans and St. Louis more accessible to trade was a monumental engineering accomplishment. However, the unintended cumulative effect of more than a century of civil engineering success has been to reduce the overall sediment load carried by the entire watershed by 67 percent. A well-engineered, hydraulically efficient flow carries that reduced load far out into the Gulf of Mexico and ensures that very little of it will be deposited in the marshes along the coast that it had nurtured for centuries.



    All this does not mean that the Corps is evil, or even misguided. It just serves to point out that there are tradeoffs in life, and we don't always see them when we'd like to. The Army Corps of Engineers has done a great job of mitigating the Mississippi's annual flooding, while inadvertently causing the noted loss of shoreline. What concerns me is that you not only did not know this, but praised the Corps for preserving shoreline. This is the problem, Tim. You are missing some key pieces of the science, yet seem to feel that you are qualified to make sweeping statements about it. One thing you might try is to follow the links Orac supplied, and read up on the subject. Failing that, at least try to be funnier.

    By Blogger jimbobboy, at 9:50 PM, July 13, 2007  

  • I find this back and forth between intelligent, not so intelligent and down right single digit IQ holders to be a truly amazing. A shining example of people with not only too much time on their hands, but more importantly, people who could be doing more good focusing on solutions to the problems that are a bit more at hand...I don't know, maybe those pesky guys trying to get their hands on 72 virgins at our expense? Somehow I think the ice and the ozone can wait a bit more before we tackle those threats.

    By Anonymous Gordon Mack, at 12:18 AM, July 14, 2007  

  • jimbobboy writes:""One thing you might try is to follow the links Orac supplied, and read up on the subject"

    I did. I also posted a few of my own, that I thought countered his position quite well. But yet, you still think his position is correct. Which means that you've come into this debate with a preconceived notion, of impending apocalypse.

    That is why, I misread your remark, about Baton Rouge having beachfront. I thought you were kidding. It seemed too ridiculous to be taken seriously, so I responded with an equally ridiculous remark about the ACE.

    Had I known you were serious, I would have treated you differently. I probably would have called you a Fundamentalist Religious Zealot, and suggested that your time could be better spent building an Ark.

    By Blogger Tim Slagle, at 4:24 AM, July 14, 2007  

  • You've managed to make either three or four wrong statements in that brief comment, Tim (the jury is still out on the last one.)

    Yes -- Orac's position is correct. But that is because the science supports it, not because I (or anyone else) have or had a "preconceived notion" about it.

    If you think the sites to which Orac linked predict "impending apocalypse", I will gently suggest that you did not read them very thoroughly.

    I did not post the original comment about Louisiana beachfront. Check the IP addresses.

    As to your response -- if you say that you intended it to be "ridiculous", well ... I agree that it was ridiculous, and how can I argue with you about your intent? An alternate theory does suggest itself, however -- that you posted a comment pulled from your butt, and when you found out it was wrong, used some weasel words to cover yourself. Not that I have anything against weasel words. They are what separate us from the animals (except the weasels).

    By Blogger jimbobboy, at 9:17 AM, July 14, 2007  

  • imbobboy writes: " I did not post the original comment about Louisiana beachfront."

    My apologies. I made a bad assumption. But you have to agree, the idea of the ocean moving all the way into Baton Rouge, within the span of our lifetimes, is ridiculous. And if someone believed it was possible, they would certainly be subscribing to the notion of an impending apocalypse.

    My response was not meant to be considered praise of the ACE, it was somewhat derogatory (hello? mismanagement?). But by no means was it meant to be taken seriously. Just a flip response to what I thought was a flip remark.

    Finally, I don't see how the science supports Orac. What is wrong in my rebuttal? I assumed that since most of the scientists who paid a visit here this week, decided to attack my bicycle mistake instead, my rebuttal, was somewhat airtight.

    By Blogger Tim Slagle, at 10:07 AM, July 14, 2007  

  • I started writing a lengthy comment on ice sheets, and see that you've posted a response on the Corps of Engineers thing in the meantime. OK, let's drop the Corps from discussion. Since you are interested in how the science supports Orac, and since you've mentioned the recent Science paper on Greenland's ice, it is probably worth noting that RealClimate has an excellent discussion of that paper.

    But enough of that. You asked for an explanation of Al Gore's "sea levels worldwide would go up 20 feet" comment, and by golly, you deserve it. In any event, you're going to get it.

    Here is Greg Hoke's unofficial transcript of An Inconvenient Truth. The relevant passage on ice flow is this:


    I want to focus on West Antarctica, because it illustrates two factors about land-based ice and sea-based ice. It's a little of both. It's propped on tops of islands, but the ocean comes up underneath it. So if the ocean gets warmer, it has an impact on it. If this were to go, sea levels worldwide would go up 20 feet. They've measured disturbing changes on the underside of this ice sheet. It's considered relatively more stable, however, than another big body of ice that is roughly the same size. Greenland.

    Let me refer in passing to a certain red herring discussed in these comments above, viz.: that floating ice displaces its weight. Of course it does. As Gore points out, Greenland and WAIS rest on rock.
    Moving on, here are Gore's words on sea-level rise:


    If Greenland broke up and melted, or if half of Greenland and half of West Antarctica broke up and melted, this is what would happen to the sea level in Florida.


    The question before us is whether that statement is true. The answer is yes.

    "But wait," some readers will object, "Gore doesn't say how likely this is, nor how long it will take. Doesn't that make him a slippery, fat exaggerator?"

    Damn, some readers, you sure are demanding. The first answer is that scientists studying ice flow have observed accelerating ice flow and consider the possibility of Greenland and/or WAIS destabilizing to be not remote. The answer to the second question is that nobody knows how long it will take. With continued warming, the melting is inevitable, but it could take centuries. On the other hand, it could happen very quickly if the ice starts sliding.

    Bottom line: what Gore said about sea-level rise was correct in every detail. He could have, and probably should have, tried to convey the uncertainty and range of timescales. But since the scientists themselves can't predict these events precisely, it seems unfair to criticize Al Gore for not giving us a date to put on the calendar ("June 12th: buy beach house in Ohio").

    By Blogger jimbobboy, at 10:48 AM, July 14, 2007  

  • I had already read the RealClimate entry discussing the paper I mentioned, even before I posted the link. And I agree that the paper doesn't dispute the ocean rise. But it DOES dispute previous assumptions that Greenland was relatively ice free 125,000 years ago, which Orac suggested was the case.

    And it was such a delightful article to link. One discussion that we entered on the night in question, is whether Legislation is warranted. I mentioned that Legislation moves at a snails pace compared to scientific opinion, that any legislation passed today could far outlive any consensus. We have laws still on the books, that were written over a hundred years ago, and do not apply to modern America in the least. Things like walking in front of Automobiles with a bell and a lantern.

    And in the short window between our discussion and this posting, science DID change. One of Al Gores original premises was proven faulty. In fact it changed so quickly, that even the all knowing Orac was left unaware, and posted out of date information. Just delicious.

    You write: "it seems unfair to criticize Al Gore for not giving us a date to put on the calendar ("June 12th: buy beach house in Ohio")."

    Not at all. He was saying 20 feet, because it is scarier than the consensus estimate of two to three feet. And when a map is altered to show what a 20 foot rise would do, it looks a lot more dangerous than the consensus. He was fearmongering.

    He might as well shown images of what would happen to the earth in a Supernova, because it is just as likely (only not in our grandchildren's lifetimes). If he had used such a statistic as a pretense to invade Iraq, many would have accused him of "Lying."

    By Blogger Tim Slagle, at 11:31 AM, July 14, 2007  

  • Oh, for crying out loud, Tim. As has been pointed out to you many times, and as you finally seem to be admitting, what Al Gore said about sea level rise was correct -- and you don't care. Because it's "scaremongering."

    This is, I think, what Orac found so exasperating. You don't have any well-founded objection to any particular assertion (by Al Gore or anyone else) about climate change. Instead, you have a vague mish-mash of opinions about the badness of government intervention and the frailty of scientific consensus, and you seem to figure that the facts, whatever they are, must support those opinions. When anyone tries to pin you down on a specific issue, you bob, weave, modify your position and change the subject. It is exhausting to argue with someone who just doesn't care about whether an assertion of fact is true. I can see why Orac was annoyed.

    By Blogger jimbobboy, at 11:59 AM, July 14, 2007  

  • >you finally seem to be admitting, what Al Gore said about sea level rise was correct.

    No, I am saying it was not incorrect. It was also very misleading. Many people who saw the movie, believe the 20 feet is impending and inevitable. In truth, it is just a little more likely than my flying space monkeys scenario.

    >You don't have any well-founded objection to any particular assertion (by Al Gore or anyone else) about climate change.

    Yes I do. The "twenty feet" remark was just the one point I decided to challenge. I also take issue with him saying that Global Warming will cause increased hurricane and tornado frequency. There are a host of others, but I really didn't want to get into a lengthy discussion.

    >you have a vague mish-mash of opinions about the badness of government intervention and the frailty of scientific consensus

    Yes.

    That is the basis of the routine Orac saw. That science does not support an apocalypse, and we can wait before moving forward on any government action that we might regret later.

    But much like the scientists who focused my incorrect assumptions on the efficiency of a bicycle, and ignored the theme of the article. Orac went after the science of my Global warming bit, and ignored the premise and conclusion.. The only science I really disputed in the bit, was whether the projected rise was closer to 20 feet (Gore) or 23 inches (IPCC) over the next hundred years. Right now the science seems closer to 23 inches.

    As I suggested onstage, a rise of 23 inches is not a crisis, and we could certainly wait for more conclusive evidence before we start legislating. As I said over on RI, I am not a "scientific" comic, I am a political comic. And I believe Al Gore is more a politician, than a scientist.

    By Blogger Tim Slagle, at 12:57 PM, July 14, 2007  

  • jinbobboy complained over at RI that I kept changing the argument. Following is his post and my reply there for archival purposes:

    Tim, I pointed out in excruciating detail how and where you were wrong. Rather than engage me on a single substantive point, you pretended not to have said what you said, then changed the subject. It's frustrating, is all.
    Posted by: jre | July 14, 2007 04:17 PM


    jre: Sorry, You're right. I didn't adequately deal with your assertions that the Melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet is accelerating, and the melting of the WAIS is not remote. I focused only on the RealClimate rebuttal to the paper I cited, and ignored the other two.

    Greenland Ice Sheet: I provided a link that indicates the Greenland ice mass is actually increasing. It suggests that Global Warming might be causing the edges to thin, but increased precipitation, (also due to Global Warming) is causing the overall mass to increase. So is the sheeting eventually going to outpace the thickening? Stalemate. (that's kind of why I ignored that one).

    WAIS destabilizing: The link you provided didn't seem to support that conclusion. Maybe it was my browser, or just my ignorance, but I didn't see anything there that would support your conclusion. I figured you were bluffing.

    Finally, was Al Gore correct? It is my understanding that he overlaid the projected 20 ft. Sea Level rise, with current geographical population centers. Which suggested the crisis is sooner rather than later. Because over 1000 years, population centers will probably relocate, especially if the ocean starts slowly rising. He wasn't incorrect, but he was very misleading.

    And when there seems to be no conclusive proof that:

    a) Greenland is melting
    b) Antarctica is melting
    c) Greenland melted 125,000 years ago, and was responsible for that historic ocean rise

    his projection of 20 feet seems about as likely as the Lake Michigan Tsunami I predicted.

    By Blogger Tim Slagle, at 4:08 PM, July 14, 2007  

  • Tim wrote:

    "Of course the gorilla waiting for a dance at this party, is that 125,000 years ago, the warming source has to be accounted for as well. When we get THAT figured out, we'll be in a much better state to calculate the anthropogenic contribution."

    You see, this is the problem; the reason for this melting was that the Earth's orbital parameters were slightly different, leading to temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere around 1-2K hotter. So we do indeed have this figured out.

    You also seem to think that this paper 'disproves' greenland melting, which is simply wrong. There may we a slight difference in the relative difference in the contributions of Greenland and Antartica, that is all.

    The link you cave shows that in the non-marginal areas of ice sheets, overall Antartica is slightly losing mass and the Interios of greenland gaining mass, leading to a net melting; however, it avoids the hard-to-measure edge reasons. In any case, increased precipitation is expected to lead to some ice sheet growth at this stage.

    As far as the whole '20 feet' vs. 2 feet thing goes, the reason for the difference is that the IPCC, being a fairly conservative organisation, devliberately excludes Ice sheet dynamics. Therefore the two numers are compatible.

    As far as lowering the Carbon emissions of the US being overly expensive.. compared to (say) $200 Billion for oil imports, tens of thousands of premature deaths from coal burning, the fact that Nuclear power is the second cheapest large scale power source we have (after hydro), and, of course, the fact that the first country to being electric cars into large scale production will have a significant technology advantage, the idea that 'business as usual' is the best way forward seems just wrong.

    By Anonymous Hairy Backed European, at 1:00 AM, July 16, 2007  

  • Orac went after the science of my Global warming bit, and ignored the premise and conclusion.

    That's what scientists do. If your data are wrong, your conclusion isn't worth discussing.

    By Blogger The Factician, at 5:22 PM, July 16, 2007  

  • Hairy Backed European writes:” the reason for this melting was that the Earth's orbital parameters were slightly different, leading to temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere around 1-2K hotter. So we do indeed have this figured out.”

    Actually, I believe that the Milankovitch cycle explains glaciation, but the interglacial periods are irregular in length and still unaccounted for. That cycle also only affects temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere, so the Antarctic melting is even more of a puzzle.


    further: “You also seem to think that this paper 'disproves' greenland melting, which is simply wrong.”

    No. I think the historic consensus assumption, that Greenland was responsible for a great portion of the ocean rise during the Eemian Interglacial, changed. And it happened in the short time between our initial argument, and these blog posts.

    And: “the two numers are compatible.”

    Yes, but 23 inches is the more likely number, within the next 100 years. The 20 foot number is possible someday, maybe. So the remark: “the ocean could rise 20 feet” is true. But the remark, “a tsunami could destroy Chicago” is also true. 23 inches is the scientific consensus, 20 feet and a Chicago Tsunami are fear mongering.

    finally: “compared to (say) $200 Billion for oil imports, tens of thousands of premature deaths from coal burning, ... business as usual' is the best way forward seems just wrong.”

    Yes, but this summer "seems" cooler than last summer. And your argument here "seems" to be lacking any substance.

    Here’s why you all frustrate me. (After this extended exercise, I now know why I’ve been frustrating you.) You have very strict rules on what is and isn’t acceptable when writing a scientific thesis. However, when you venture over to economic or politics, you have no problem spouting conjecture profusely.

    I think that’s why we’ve all been butting heads here so violently, we look at the problem from two completely different angles. You all are meticulous about the science, but vague and indifferent about the policy, and even worse about projecting the economic impact of such policy.

    Myself, I'll take the USA Today summary on the Science, and am meticulous about the policy and economics.

    Factician said as much when he said: “That's what scientists do. If your data are wrong, your conclusion isn't worth discussing.”

    My position is, that legislation isn’t worth discussing, until there is certainty.


    I will admit that I’m not used to writing theses. I know it sounded like I've been continually changing my premise, and I apologize for frustrating all of you.

    I realize now I’ve been defending my act, which none of you (outside of Orac) actually saw. It also was an opinion, not a properly worded thesis.

    And in conclusion, I would like to point out that the schadenfraude many of you have enjoyed here, watching me crawl around on the playground looking for my broken glasses, supports my thesis, that some scientists are intellectual bullies.

    That it comes from indignities suffered in childhood is mere speculation.

    By Blogger Tim Slagle, at 2:24 PM, July 17, 2007  

  • "My position is, that legislation isn’t worth discussing, until there is certainty. "

    There is a great deal of legislation passed with little to no scientific certainty of its basis (Some legislation solidly going against scientific certainty).

    I suppose then the question would be "How certain do you wish to be before discussing legislation concerning global warming?" somewhere on the scale of (0..100) (note this is an open set, so a glib but useless response of "100%" is not attainable).

    Your opinion, while laudable that you have found an avenue to express it, is not supported by evidence. Which means those whose opinions are supported by evidence must find an avenue to express theirs, which you have very admirably provided. (Despite the title of this blog post being a call for someone to silence their own opinion)

    As to your schadenfreude hypothesis, I was never bullied in school. I just enjoy seeing people who spout garbage as gold being taken down a peg. Call it an uncharacteristic joy of Karma.

    By Anonymous AtheistAcolyte, at 4:06 PM, July 17, 2007  

  • AtheistAcolyte writes: ""How certain do you wish to be before discussing legislation concerning global warming?"

    Well, in a court of Law, a conviction cannot occur until there is evidence that a person is guilty, "beyond a reasonable doubt." I suspect a similar burden of proof should be applicable for any legislation.

    Just because 100% is an unattainble figure, does not mean that it shouldn't apply. Especially since the solutions cannot be proven to be effective in the least (See Kyoto.)

    And something wrong, done in the past, does not make repetition acceptable.

    Once again, the remark "Shut Up Orac" was not meant as an attempt to silence him. I thought it was a tag line from Blake's 7 (see link) and it made a good caption for the photo.

    By Blogger Tim Slagle, at 5:02 PM, July 17, 2007  

  • First, I wasn't asking for what degree of certainty would be necessary to pass legislation, I was asking what degree would be necessary to begin a discussion about it. My concept of certainty for discussion purposes involves looking at scientific organizations, gathering their statements on the matter, and judging the overall consensus of those who have made it a career to study climate. To vote positively, I'd need more certainty, but to discuss, that's enough.

    Second, in a court of Law, "beyond a reasonable doubt" applies to either a judge or 12 peers after the evidence for both cases is presented to them. Besides, how do you handle a "hung jury" situation?

    Third, declaring "reasonable doubt" just moves the goalposts on my question. WHOSE reasonable doubt do we go with? Conspiracy junkies have doubts, and they consider them very reasonable.

    100% certainty is unreasonable to require in any situation, especially where a complex system like climate is concerned.

    "Especially since the solutions cannot be proven to be effective in the least (See Kyoto.)"

    Wait, wait, lemme get this straight. You want legislative solutions to be proven effective?! That's gotta be the funniest thing you've ever written. You should put it in your act.

    "And something wrong, done in the past, does not make repetition acceptable."

    I honestly don't understand what you're going on about here.

    "Once again, the remark "Shut Up Orac" was not meant as an attempt to silence him. I thought it was a tag line from Blake's 7 (see link) and it made a good caption for the photo."

    Sure. However you want to justify it. Then you're just guilty of poor judgment and bad taste.

    By Anonymous AtheistAcolyte, at 8:27 AM, July 18, 2007  

  • AA writes: " I wasn't asking for what degree of certainty would be necessary to pass legislation, I was asking what degree would be necessary to begin a discussion about it."

    Sorry for the misunderstanding. I actually love discussion. There are those that think the discussion is over, it's time for action. I thought you were one of those.

    "in a court of Law, "beyond a reasonable doubt" applies to either a judge or 12 peers after the evidence for both cases is presented to them."

    It also allows people on either side of the debate to agree on who those 12 jurors are. That's not happening in the AGW debate, as the opposition are referred to as Deniers, Whores, and illegitimate; and their opinions are summarily dismissed based on solely on their contrary opinions.

    "You want legislative solutions to be proven effective?! "

    Bad choice of words on my part. I meant, that all the solutions proposed thus far, would have done nothing to change CO2 output. It is quite possible, that there is no solution.

    People want carbon burnt. I believe that altering that legislatively, is as futile as preventing a volcano from erupting. Both have consequences for the environment, but in the case of the volcano, we accept it as inevitable, and try to minimize the impact. I personally believe that is how we should handle the impending climate change.


    My remark: "And something wrong, done in the past, does not make repetition acceptable." Meant, that bad laws have been passed before, but that is not reason to fight them from being passed in the future. It was based on my incorrect assumption that you wanted laws passed.

    Finally: "Shut Up Orac" was called a tag line on this site. Did you see the link? here it is again. The RespectfulInsolence Orac admits he even remembered the line used a couple times in the Blake's 7 show, (although it wasn't really a tag line). I apologized for the mistake, my use of the term was based on this website (I never once watched the show). And it was meant as the caption, something Al Gore would be saying in the photo, kind of like "This is another fine mess!" I won't deny the inference was there, but it was meant in a teasing fashion, not as an angry command. Almost as if there were a picture of Archie Bunker, and I titled the article " Would You Stifle Yourself!"

    By Blogger Tim Slagle, at 10:45 AM, July 18, 2007  

  • No apology necessary. But I think it's time to discuss the actions to take. The argument for global warming appears too ironclad as far as my own research goes. And yes, I have examined many websites which go against the consensus, but overall I find them lacking in substance, or at least enough substance to overturn the substance of the "pro-" side.

    As far as the court of Law discussion goes, I think it's moot. A court of (at least, criminal) Law is intentionally biased towards the defendant ("Innocent until proven Guilty"), and not without it's own good reasons. However, biasing one's approach is not good for critical thinking and scientific inquiry.

    I don't know what legislation could possibly be drafted to directly affect CO2 emissions, short of vague hand-waving pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Several international and interstate compacts exist which pledge reductions in emissions. It remains to be seen if they will be efficacious.

    At any rate, it seems that market forces will not drive this. Any manufacturer who desires to drive up productivity while driving down costs(and who doesn't) will need more energy cheaply, and energy is cheapest when pouring greenhouse gases into the air. At least I see the benefits of carbon-trading, but I would like to see the government invest heavily in producing alternative energy sources as a public good. This seems to me the only viable (in our time) way to decrease emissions.

    I don't agree that people want carbon burnt. People want energy, and a side effect of creating that energy is that carbon is burnt. I would prefer to believe that most people are like me, and that given the choice between affordable (but still at a premium) alternative energy and regular energy, they would choose the alternative.

    But perhaps that's just me.

    By Anonymous AtheistAcolyte, at 12:03 PM, July 18, 2007  

  • You write: "biasing one's approach is not good for critical thinking and scientific inquiry."

    Actually, the problem is unbiasing one's approach. Everyone has a bias. Much easier to let people admit their bias, and balance the amount of bias on the review.

    and: " It remains to be seen if they will be efficacious."

    So far, they're not. There has been no decrease in the amount of CO2 released since nations started signing on to Kyoto


    "I don't agree that people want carbon burnt. People want energy,"

    Actually, people want cheap energy. That's what I meant by "carbon burnt." You admit that carbon is the cheapest way way to run a business, it's also the cheapest way to run a household.

    finally: " I would prefer to believe that most people are like me, and that given the choice between affordable (but still at a premium) alternative energy and regular energy, they would choose the alternative."

    Would you really? You could buy Green tags, which are a way of paying the additional cost of alternative energy, so you can assure yourself that every watt you take out of the grid is replaced by clean alternative electricity

    But it turns even advocates of clean energy like yourself, rarely want to pay for it.

    By Blogger Tim Slagle, at 12:51 PM, July 18, 2007  

  • One should always be aware of one's biases. But one should not go about intentionally biasing one's critical thinking through the "court of Law" example you press. That's my point.

    Re: Kyoto- True enough. But I'm not here to debate Kyoto with you. There are plenty of other recently started compacts around in the US alone, with more ambitious goals than Kyoto. We shall see if they make any difference.

    People just want energy. They will pay any price for it, but market forces drive the price. If it is more expensive to produce energy a certain way, the cost will rise and separate it from others. If the spread of energy costs rose, I doubt there would be an appreciable decrease in energy consumption, similarly to how there is no appreciable decrease in gas consumption with the increases over the past decade alone. Just a general increase in cost-of-living across the board.

    The problem is, I can't afford on what I earn now to pay the premium. Hence, it is not affordable for me, and that is my problem. But if I had the money, which I hope to, I would gladly put my money where my mouth is. In fact, I do take steps to reduce my energy consumption. I will not bore you with the details unless you ask.

    "But it turns even advocates of clean energy like yourself, rarely want to pay for it."

    This sounds bogus. Do you have any good evidence of it, or is it just cynical supposition and so much garbage?

    By Anonymous AtheistAcolyte, at 1:30 PM, July 18, 2007  

  • You write: "Do you have any good evidence of it, or is it just cynical supposition and so much garbage?"

    No, my evidence is completely anecdotal. Everytime I meet someone that says "people wouldn't mind paying the premuim" I show them how they can. And of all the people I've shown that link to, not ONE has paid the premium.

    Some have promised to start buying tags, but when I check back in a month or two, to see if they have, all I get is another excuse.

    So here is my question: If you can't afford it now, why do you think you'll be able to, when it's mandatory?

    By Blogger Tim Slagle, at 1:44 PM, July 18, 2007  

  • Because I will be able, and willing, to when I can pay it. I will not be drawn into a debate about my personal finances, but when I am able, I will.

    Your point of people not wanting to pay the premium being shown by your own words to be anecdotal and therefore so much methane-producing biomass, can we please return to the original topic of discussion:

    Do you believe there is enough certainty to discuss legislative action on global warming solutions? If not, what certainty are you at, and what certainty do you require to discuss legislative action?

    By Anonymous AtheistAcolyte, at 2:27 PM, July 18, 2007  

  • "Your point of people not wanting to pay the premium being shown by your own words to be anecdotal and therefore so much methane-producing biomass, can we please return to the original topic of discussion."

    Not so fast.

    It might be anecdotal, but it is not garbage. I have more than anecdotal evidence, since there are a lot more environmentalists in America, than there are Green Tag customers.

    Especially when YOU personally are unwilling to make the sacrifice necessary to curb Global Warming.

    I don't think Legislation should be discussed, by someone who won't abide by it. I have a problem with blatant hypocrisy.

    You seem to be a textboook example of the bit Orac took issue with: A scientist without a lot of money, that wants to see other people's money taken away.

    How'd you do in dodgeball?

    By Blogger Tim Slagle, at 2:46 PM, July 18, 2007  

  • Excuse me, but when did I advocate taking people's money away in mandatory emissions trading?

    By Anonymous AtheistAcolyte, at 2:51 PM, July 18, 2007  

  • "when did I advocate taking people's money away in mandatory emissions trading?"

    If an electric company that burns coal, has to buy carbon credits, they will also have to raise prices. Who is going to to pay for that additional cost? The people who use the energy. You are advocating that.

    And you don't seem to mind, even though you refuse to pay more for your own energy.

    Do you have Cable TV? Ever go out to the Bar? Buy music? Seems to me, that the future of the planet is more important than those things, but not to you.

    By Blogger Tim Slagle, at 3:00 PM, July 18, 2007  

  • Once again, when did I advocate emissions trading as the solution?

    By Anonymous AtheistAcolyte, at 3:01 PM, July 18, 2007  

  • "when did I advocate emissions trading as the solution?"

    Apologies. I misread.

    So you only advocate government funded research ionto alternative fuels? That is the only Legislation you suupport?

    By Blogger Tim Slagle, at 3:14 PM, July 18, 2007  

  • You just kind of took off there, didn't ya?

    I do support government as well as private research into alternative energies. I support intelligent government subsidy of alternative energy as a public good. I have voted such in recent local measures and propositions.
    I also support re-allocation of funds from the military and irresponsible foreign policy to alternative energy subsidies.

    That's how I see a good solution. The money is there, just allocated poorly.

    By Anonymous AtheistAcolyte, at 3:27 PM, July 18, 2007  

  • Regardless of my personal views on legislative solutions, since you are now willing to discuss said solutions I take it that you now believe there is sufficient certainty to discuss legislation.

    "My position is, that legislation isn’t worth discussing, until there is certainty."

    By Anonymous AtheistAcolyte, at 3:34 PM, July 18, 2007  

  • "You just kind of took off there, didn't ya?"

    Yeah, bad habit.

    I don't see a problem with you and I discussing solutions, Legislators are another issue.

    It is doubtful that the money would just be reallocated. Government doesn't work that way. Once an expenditure finds it's way into the budget, it's harder to get rid of, than toenail fungus.

    I believe there is a warehouse somewhere full of wool, because there was concern back in 1915 there might be a wool shortage, and the military would run out of uniforms. Even though uniforms are no longer made of wool, the Fed still buys a bunch of wool every year.

    Hence, any subsidy would either require a tax or deficit increase.


    Secondly, I don't see subsidy creating solution. Ethanol is a prime example. All the subsidies dumped into Ethanol, have not moved us an inch closer to Energy independence. A second downfall, is that Ethanol over-reliance is now negatively impacting food prices.

    By Blogger Tim Slagle, at 4:00 PM, July 18, 2007  

  • That's why I specified intelligent subsidy. The budget for this next fiscal year increased military spending from $672 billion to $699 billion. That's an increase of $27,000,000,000.

    A small fraction, say, $5 billion, of that could help snowball the process of tearing down coal-burning plants and replacing them with nuclear plants through subsidies to utility companies.

    But I'm not here to espouse off-the-cuff policy. The point was, there is certainty about global warming, and there are good options for solutions.

    By Anonymous AtheistAcolyte, at 4:19 PM, July 18, 2007  

  • "I specified intelligent subsidy"

    Kind of like a Humane War or a Luxurious Trailer.

    Are you sure such a thing even exists?

    And we're a LONG way from convincing Americans that nuclear is a good environmental option. I'm on your side on that one, but 90% of people on your side of AGW, hate it more than coal.

    Good Luck!

    By Blogger Tim Slagle, at 4:35 PM, July 18, 2007  

  • PS: Yes that 90% figure is straight out of my ass.

    By Blogger Tim Slagle, at 4:38 PM, July 18, 2007  

  • By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:15 AM, November 02, 2007  

  • Hi Tim,

    I read about the first 1/3rd of the blog posts, skipped down to the last 90% and decided I got the general flavour.

    I'm amazed that the amount of time you've put into this, bravo!

    In all of my experience with debates/discussions with people on the libertarian bend and people on the socialist bend, it is always the socialist benders who seem to get in an emotional huff. Now, can I gauge the emotion of the blog posts, accurately? No, but I'm willing to bet it's there. Why is that way? I always find that emotion goes up when the phrase, "...people should..." is spoken.

    To whatever degree AGW is real or not, I believe it is irrelevant to try to change someone else's opinion of it. I've had people try to change my opinion but I only ever have my opinion change if I'm open to it. I, for one, used to be a VEHEMENT supporter of it only to find that I now believe it to be a non-issue (based on data that I've seen).

    Regardless, thanks again for the great blog posts and I hope that you and Orac's family have come to some sort of good terms. It is my opinion that it's a shame to let stubborn arguments come between family members (religion, anyone? :).

    Cheers,

    Connor Ferster

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:12 AM, November 14, 2007  

  • Dear Tim,


    You're a comedian! The jokes made me laugh! You're making fun of talking points! It was funny. Why are you even replying to all these people with no lives???

    Think about:

    Respectful Insolence for the name of his blog? It's an oxymoron! Have you read the blog? It's not even well written! Blah blah blah (insert a not so common word liberally applied beyond it's proper definition) blah blah blah aren't I just so pedantic blah blah blah.

    You're a comedian. You have the guts to get up on stage and be funny. Who is this guy? A blogger? Being a mildly popular blogger is like being a one legged soccer player. An unemployed motivational speaker. If talk is cheap, bloggers are spare change! They can't even speak in public, this guy is not the man his mom was!

    Oh and let's not forgot he's a self proclaimed surgeon and scientist. If you can repeat pseudo as often as he does in his opening declaration, I question his ability to speak. We've left the theory of mind and entered Parlor tricks for 100 Alex!

    Surgeons don't have time to waste on a comedy act! If they're not assessing patients, performing surgery or writing letters to insurance companies they're fulfilling basic instinctual needs! This person has no life! They show up in a cape and mask, probably for aesthetic reasons, and can't even enjoy the show. Who critics comedians on the intellectual properties of their act???

    The bigger question is: Who has nothing going on in their life that they write about some stupid personal event in such a bombastic fashion as to render Goebbels green with envy???

    Somebody not worth your time! Ignore the people who don't change their clothes and live on their computers! You got a life! Let these delusional people have their escape from reality everytime they log on on the internet baybee!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:10 PM, November 14, 2007  

  • Yes I noticed the typo! Critique*

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:13 PM, November 14, 2007  

  • wow, you combine being retarded with being not funny in a terrible way

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:44 AM, November 15, 2007  

  • You commit an error. I can prove it. Write to me in PM, we will discuss. I have a good fresh joke for you! What did one rabbit say to the other rabbit? Nothing. Rabbits can't talk. [url=http://buy-vigara.info/vigera/site_map.html][size=1][color=white]vigera generic Idaho [/color][/size][/url]

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